GUEST OPINION: Traditional masculinity isn’t toxic and here’s why
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about “toxic masculinity” in the news and on social media. Ads from Gillette and an article from the American Psychological Association have both sparked significant debate on social media.
Gillette’s ad, or its “short film” as the company described it, was released Jan. 13. It addressed the #MeToo movement, bullying, and various other topics. The ad portrayed men to be “toxic” in several ways, such as fathers watching their sons fight, a man groping a woman on television, and ‘mansplaining’ in a business meeting.
What Gillette did in that commercial was insulting. Being masculine and displaying traditionally masculine traits does not make a man evil.
According to Merriam Webster the definition of “masculinity” is simply just “male." Is being male inherently bad? The answer is no! There are definitely toxic people out there. Simply being masculine does not make a man evil. Gillette’s interpretation of masculinity and portrayal of how men behave was inaccurate and doesn't reflect reality.
The American Psychological Association recently published its first-ever “Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys,” which discusses how “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression” are harmful.
Competition is what drives people to success and to do better not only for themselves, but their families as well. Without competition there would be no incentive to work hard, let alone try. People need these traits, especially men.
It’s important for men to be strong during difficult times in life. I am not saying that men cannot show emotion at all. However, men do need to learn how to deal with those emotions from a young age, and not be led to believe that stoic traits are bad. There are times when crying or showing emotion is relevant, but being able to endure hardship without becoming helpless also is important.
Under certain circumstances dominance and aggression are vital, but learning to identify those circumstances is key. Aggression in particular is not something that someone can just eliminate or suppress. This trait has an undeniable relationship with testosterone. Obviously, testosterone is the hormone that is most dominant in men, but it plays an important role in the development of young boys.
Teaching and raising young boys to grow up with specific masculine traits to become men is not toxic, it is a necessity.
However, it is toxic to assume that all or most men are inherently bad or have bad intentions because ‘traditional’ masculinity seems "harmful." Using a made up term (“toxic masculinity”) to make men seem evil or to feel shameful is not only detrimental to men but also destructive to women. If society deems masculinity evil, it will weaken men and leave women with weak partners who will cripple the relationship.
Everyone has the option to raise their children the way that they see best fit. It’s imperative to take into consideration that young boys should be raised to be competitive, to be stoic, and to have the understanding on how to use dominance and aggression properly.
Traditional masculinity is important and has a significant role in the household, in the workplace, and in life. It should not be condemned.
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